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Caribbean

Published on May 23rd, 2014 | by Robbie Joseph

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Maple Leaf International School Pan Ensemble

The Maple Leaf International School Pan Ensemble is an extra-curricular group who meets twice a week after school, to practice and further develop pan technique and appreciation. The students involved range in ability from beginner to intermediate, with a few approaching a more advanced level. The ensemble is currently conducted by Miss Kaeleigh Gray, a Canadian-born and trained music teacher. She is classically trained in voice and several instruments, including percussion, through the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario.

The Queen’s Hall performance provided the ensemble with a chance to perform in a large venue outside of the school, for a wider audience than just parents; preparing for the event gave the students a sense of focus and a new determination towards their practicing. Many students enjoyed the adjudication aspect of the performance as they felt the positive feedback and tips for further improvement were beneficial and constructive. The students also expressed that their favourite part was getting to hear the technique and ability of other students their age. Following the event, many of the students felt inspired to practice and focus more during rehearsals and requested music at a more difficult level.

Being an International school means that students and teacher alike are not overly familiar with steel pan upon entering the school. The music program at Maple Leaf teaches an authentic Canadian curriculum while using the steel pan as the performance medium. The steel pan is a very versatile instrument which lends itself well to all genres and styles of music. Students learn anything ranging from classical music to current popular top 40 while still keeping the local Trinidadian heritage of steel pan alive in the classroom. Music teacher, Kaeleigh Gray, had some percussion training before taking on the position; however, she learned how to play steel pan through a community ensemble while teaching in England. Applying previous percussion knowledge with general musicianship skills makes learning the steel pan a positive experience for both students and teachers.

By:
Kaeleigh Gray, B.Mus, B.Ed, OCT
Music Teacher
Maple Leaf International School
Petit Valley, Trinidad


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